DARREN: I was walking around the Village in New York City, where there are always little graffiti statements. This one week, someone had written things in chalk on the sidewalk, and there was a line that read "beauty magazines promote low self-esteem." I thought about how cool it would be to just spew forth all of these things that I think about life. "Affirmation" pretty much sums up the whole record: It's quite positive, but it's also brutal and to the point. Sometimes you're up, sometimes you're down. I wanted to be that literal.
DANIEL: This song is like "I Want You" on an adrenaline rush. It's just a high-energy, big synth pop, positive-sounding kind of song. The instrumental is so in the pocket for what Darren is trying to say: Life can be really damn good if you know how to play the game.
DARREN: This is a song about the moment where you're ready to give up the fight in a relationship. We don't understand why, but something's not working, even though we wish it could. We really love each other, but why do we keep doing this to each other. We're destroying one another, so maybe being together isn't the best thing for us. It's as if you no longer have any defenses and you agree that things just can't be fixed. It's like a Rubik's cube, where you finally just give up, and that's OK.
DANIEL: This was my least favorite song for a long time, sort of a four-chord musical thing that didn't turn me on that much. But once it was all put together with Darren's vocal, I went, "Wow."
I KNEW I LOVED YOU
DARREN: This love song is very simple. Nothing else on the record is as pure as this song, and I think it was really essential to include. When I wrote it, I wasn't feeling that way at the time, as opposed to "Truly Madly Deeply," which I was absolutely living and breathing. I was there. I didn't know if I could write this one without having that same feeling, but I did and it actually puts a lump in my throat.
DANIEL: This song is beautiful with Darren's falsetto and the rise of acoustic guitars. It has a lot of innocence. It was important that we find that place on this album again.
THE BEST THING
DARREN: This song represents my favorite kind of pop. There's this big keyboard riff, everything I was raised on musically. Lyrically, it's about those relationships that are really bad for you; they're crazy and they're obsessive, but they're like an addiction. The song is basically saying, it's probably going to kill me, but I love it and I just want to say what you mean to me. It also expresses fright that the person is becoming the best thing about you; about how sad it is that the best thing about you is someone else, but what the hell, it's fun.
DANIEL: For me, this song was inspired by guitar pop with a very riffy bass. When we started working on this project, Darren and I used to jam with that riff, which really made us feel like a band again. That's the way we created that song, just trying different things with the riff, Darren's singing along, and myself trying different instruments.
CRASH AND BURN
DARREN: There are some pretty heavy places that this record goes, and I wanted this song to be something that says, look, everything is going to be OK; it always is in the end. It's like a lullaby to myself and for the people that listen to this record to see us through the dark moments.
DANIEL: "Crash And Burn" is my favorite song on the album, and it's the last one we recorded. I love the angst feel of the guitars, quietly placed behind the rest of the sound. It's just a good feel-sorry-for-yourself kind of song.
CHAINED TO YOU
DARREN: I love this song about obsessive love. It's very real and is exactly what it appears to be. There's a nightclub, there's a Madonna song playing on the dance floor, there's a kiss, and it's all over. It's intentionally retro, with claps drums, a big '80s guitar solo and throbbing keyboards.
DANIEL: We were thinking very '80s pop when we did the whole synth line and guitar thing you hear in this song. We wanted to make a statement with that. For a while, the song was sounding really ridiculous�totally cheesy�but after we added drums and sped it up a bit, it tended to rock more than crackle. It's a really fun song.
THE ANIMAL SONG
DARREN: This song was written for the Garry Marshall film, "The Other Sister." It's a surprisingly "up" song for an album that I at first thought was going to be very moody and very electronic. I find it infectious. It was written during the bleakest time of winter in New York, and I wrote it, in part, as an antidote to my surroundings as well as my reaction to the film.
DANIEL: I love the production of this song. That big drum pop feel with the percussion is just amazing and huge. I sat down and created this drum loop, which was really jungly, then we added the bass line and Darren started singing over it. I'd have liked it if we could have made the drums even bigger!
THE LOVER AFTER ME
DARREN: This is about a haunting love that you probably shouldn't have left, but you did and it would be so much easier if you didn't still care about them. You're walking around the city with that feeling you have when you're free of something, yet you also miss it. You're reminiscing, where the buildings speak the person's name and how memories of love seep into the pavement and are everywhere you go.
DANIEL: This was one of the hardest songs to record on the album. We had to be careful that we didn't suffocate the guitars with too much keyboards and vice versa. It's a really honest song with great lyrics. Emotionally, this is probably my favorite song.
TWO BEDS AND A COFFEE MACHINE
DARREN: This is a very raw song, about an uncomfortable topic: abuse in a relationship, from the perspective of looking back after the whole thing is finished. We wrote this very quickly in the studio. Walter Afanasieff is such an amazing musician that we asked him to play the piano part. It was about 3 o'clock in the morning, and I was in another room to him recording my vocals for the demo. We flew to New York to record all of the vocals for the album, but we ended up using the original demo vocal on this song because it was the best performance. It's not perfect�. but we liked it that way. It has so much emotion, because that was the first time I'd sung it all the way through from top to bottom.
DANIEL: It's a beautiful, pure, honest and sad song. There's really nothing else that needs to be said.
YOU CAN STILL BE FREE
DARREN: This is musically extravagant and is meant to take you on a bit of a journey. It kind of immortalizes two people that died�a really close friend's father and an experience that Daniel had. Everybody's life deserves to be remembered in some way and I thought this was an amazing way to remember the beauty of someone's life, in a song. Steve Smith from Journey played drums on this, and he gave an amazing performance.
DANIEL: This song is about two people very close to us that died. One was the father of a very dear friend and the other was my next door neighbor when I was 12. He shot himself in our backyard. Afterward, this bird used to appear in a tree outside our house and just sit there, and I made up this story about how the bird was hovering over our place to ask for forgiveness. After the first album did well, I bought a house five minutes from where my Mum and Dad lived, and I looked out the window and there was this same kind of bird again, which I've never seen anyplace else. That's why the song talks about spreading your wings and taking flight.
GUNNING DOWN ROMANCE
DARREN: This is all about disillusionment with love, romance, the chase, just the whole game. It's wallowing in self pity, but very tongue in cheek, not the way I feel everyday, but just a way to deal with disillusionment.
DANIEL: This is a very angry, intense song about what's going on in your head when you're not completely sane. We used an angry sort of driving music with a morbid trip-hop sound, and expressed the anger instrumentally through this guitar riff you hear.
I DON'T KNOW YOU ANYMORE
DARREN: It's a very literal conversation about going home and realizing that my whole life has changed and a relationship is over that consumed six or seven years of my life. Now, as I return, my things are packed up in boxes. My partner has put all of my clothes away, saying she had to get away from it. When I opened the suitcase, my life just came out at me through the smell of my old after-shave, and I felt the impact of no longer being in someone's life.